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Thursday, 20 May 2010

Les Fleurs Du Mal

There are times when I wonder if I am raving mad or is it the rest of them? This is one of those times when perhaps I am one of the very few who are sane. Last April 2009, on 23 April I did a post on The Cynical Tendency, my original blog, entitled “Les Fleurs Du Mal” which was meant to be a satirical comment on life as we know it.

Then I read in “The Mail” of 19th May 2010 that Waitrose has introduced a marketing innovation designed to help the manic consumer spend their money. Basically, it is providing synthetic fragrances with allegedly fresh flowers (probably from mass production plants far away) to assist the human sense of smell which they judge is inadequate for the purpose.

In our local Waitrose the flowers part is adjacent to an area where organic food is on open display. If my knowledge of the chemistry of fragrances is any guide I assume that these synthetic scents will transfer onto organic food either open or packaged.

I will go to a quiet bedroom, draw the curtains, lie down with a cold damp cloth on my forehead and sing quietly to myself for a few hours to prove my sanity.

Quote from “Mail”, 19th May 2010

Scratch and sniff: Waitrose is to pioneer its new labels with long-stemmed bunches of oriental lilies. Traditionally, simply smelling bunches of flowers was enough to convince a wavering buyer which one to buy.

But to ensure a longer life in the vase, stores are selling more and more blooms before they open, which means there is no scent to smell. Now experts have devised a way of giving buyers the best of both worlds - scratch and sniff labels that help them get an idea of the scent.

It could revolutionise the way we buy flowers. From next Monday, Waitrose will be offering long-stemmed bunches of oriental lilies with a scented scratch and sniff label at branches all over the country.

The supermarket enlisted the help of floral fragrance expert Dr Hazel MacTavish-West and perfumer Dr John Heffernan to assess the fragrance of open lily flowers.
Each of the 100 components of the fragrance was analysed and then recreated in a bottle.

The team compared these scents with the real thing. After six attempts they believed they recreated oriental lily fragrance in a bottle. The final step was to capture the fragrance into a print varnish, which is applied to a print label. The varnish is unscented until buyers brush their finger across the label, breaking open the capsules and allowing the fragrance to escape.

Waitrose buyer Emma Coupe said: 'As the oriental lily hides its scent until its petals start to open it was the perfect guinea pig for the trial of scented labels.' A spokesman for the store added: 'This new technology on the scented labels allows customers to sniff the intense aroma before they buy.'


Blog Post “Les Fleurs Du Mal” Thurday 23 April 2009

More on the way we live. Slinking through town, trying to avoid the many charity collectors, I saw someone from up the road leaving a florists shop. She was one of a couple who bought at the top of the market and had spent a lot of borrowed money on improvements. The front garden was turned into hard standing for the three cars, his, hers, and the big one for the dogs. At the back what did not go under the decking became a barbecue picnic area where they spend happy hours carbonising organic sausages and hand made burgers.

She had bought some flowers, probably farmed in central Africa on irrigated land owned by a company based in the Cayman Islands, purchased from a government agency funded by British development funds and staffed by former peasant tribes dispossessed by law. The flowers will have been conveyed by air freight operating on a just in time distribution system associated with a major trucking firm. As she was leaving, the florist gave the lady’s flowers a good going over with a spray can of fragrances that looked suspiciously like a male deodorant.

The florist continued to spray the outside flowers, and then went inside to give all the stock the same treatment. Not that it was needed because there were a number of air fresheners dotted about. Taking my life in my hands and putting my head through the door, I asked her about the flowers, then about the spray. It seems that despite the flowers being developed for a scent much stronger that in the past, it is not enough, and lasts but days, not weeks. The customers now want flowers that smell strong until the last leaf has withered on the stem. So she sprays them. An antibacterial is in the mix, and in the air freshener, it seems the customers don’t like the idea of bacteria on or near flowers.

The florist then started to cough, took out a packet and popped a pill, then gave her mouth and throat a good go with an inhaler. Enquiring if it was hay fever, she told me that her doctor had diagnosed asthma with a chest infection, and had been on antibiotics for over a year. Especially as she now had IBS. Eager to avoid any more medical revelations, I withdrew, muttering polite phrases. But I was anxious to be out. I had recognised the air freshener and knew its antibacterial. Not only is it a biocide, capable of taking out all the bodily bacteria in the stomach and the gut, bad, good, or critical to function, but it acts as an effective spermicide as well.

As I went past the window of the shop, I saw the big notice put up to bring in the passing trade. It said “Say It With Flowers”.

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